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It's science: 'Girls weekends' boost mental health

For some moms, the perfect vacation is one where they can explore and engage with their little ones, while other mothers have more of a grownup girls trip in mind.

It's okay if you want to take a weekend away with your BFFs, mama. It doesn't mean anything about your commitment to motherhood or your partner. Science suggests that humans need connections outside of our romantic partners and mother-child bonds, and that when we don't connect with our friends, our health suffers.

Basically, spending time with your friends away from your family is good for you, and fills you up in a way other relationships can't. So-called "momcations" aren't for everyone, but planning a little getaway without the kids works for some mamas.

As a mom of three boys (all under four) Rachel Williams Shaw has taken three trips with friends since becoming a mom. She told Good Morning America she felt she came back rested and ready to get back into her family's daily routine.

"I think time away is very important to remember who you were before becoming a mom. I was a very adventurous, independent person before having my kids and I feel I need that kind of time to remind me that I'm still me, just with three babies," she explained.

Other mothers told GMA they don't feel the need to travel without their kids.

"I hate the thought of exploring something new without sharing it with them," said Chasity Walters, who has a 20-year-old and a 5-week-old. I want them to have as many experiences as possible. Along the same lines, everything in my life is better with them."

Preventing parental burnout

Some moms do need a break, though, and no one should be shamed for taking a trip and leaving the kids at home with their other parent, a grandparent or a babysitter. It may be what that parent needs to prevent parental burnout.

A study published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology, found 12.9% of mothers experience "high burnout" and another study, this one published in the journal Child Abuse & Neglect, suggested "parental burnout has a statistically similar effect to job burnout on addictions and sleep problems, a stronger effect on couples' conflicts and partner estrangement mindset and a specific effect on child-related outcomes (neglect and violence) and escape and suicidal ideation."

Basically, burning out at home can be even more devastating than burning out at the office, so parents should do whatever they need to to prevent it.

Mini-momcations

For a lot of mothers booking a solo trip or flying away to somewhere sunny with a couple of friends is just not an option. Vacations are among the first things that get cut when budgets get tight, and millennial parents have some of the tightest budgets around. And for single moms, childcare can be a barrier in planning a child-less vacay.

But we don't have to book a plane ticket to take a break. Taking mini-momcations—going to the movies, or grabbing dinner with your friends (without the kids)—can also help us get out of mom mode for a little while.

If you know you wouldn't enjoy vacationing without your kids (it's not for everybody) getting some quality me-time in can be just as refreshing, without having to miss your family.

You don't have to give up family vacations

Whether you're taking mini-momcations or planning a week of solo travel, choosing to savor that experience for yourself doesn't mean you can't also experience vacationing (or even just day tripping to a local attraction) with your children. Of course having experiences together is important, too.

According to a study out of the University of Toronto, family vacations strengthen our emotional connections, and a British survey found almost half of adults surveyed stated their most favorite childhood memory is one of a family vacation.

Momcations are good, but coming home is even better

Taking a momcation can help mom reset, but also reset how the family sees her. "Her spouse and children may have a better sense of how much she does and accomplishes on a daily basis. It is critical for children to see that balance modeled for them and to carry that into their own child-rearing in future years. Ultimately, this may help children garner even more respect for their mothers," psychologist Dr. Nava R. Silton told Good Morning America.

When writer and mother Jennifer Batchelor flew to Hawaii without her kids to spend time with a friend, she "reveled in [her] freedom and soaked up every last selfish second of it," but when she got home and saw the way her son and daughter lit up when they saw her, her momcation became even better. "Yes, it was nice to get away. But it's even nicer coming home," she wrote.

[A version of this post was published on September 10, 2018. It has been updated.]

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Momcations are good, but coming home is even better

Taking a momcation can help mom reset, but also reset how the family sees her. "Her spouse and children may have a better sense of how much she does and accomplishes on a daily basis. It is critical for children to see that balance modeled for them and to carry that into their own child-rearing in future years. Ultimately, this may help children garner even more respect for their mothers," psychologist Dr. Nava R. Silton told Good Morning America.

When writer and mother Jennifer Batchelor flew to Hawaii without her kids to spend time with a friend, she "reveled in [her] freedom and soaked up every last selfish second of it," but when she got home and saw the way her son and daughter lit up when they saw her, her momcation became even better. "Yes, it was nice to get away. But it's even nicer coming home," she wrote.

Who says you have to wait for birthdays or holidays to give your bestie a great gift? A sweet surprise that tells her you've been thinking of her might be the pick-me-up she needs in these more-than-trying times. We've rounded up some of our favorite go-to gifts that are certain to be a bright spot in her week. But be warned, you may want to snag a few for yourself. (You deserve it, mama.)

Here are some our favorite "just because" gifts to give our hardworking mama friends.

New Mother face + body care duo

volition face + body care duo

This correcting oil and stretch mark minimizer is perfect for the pregnant mama looking to keep her pregnancy glow. The correcting oil brightens the skin while reducing dark spots, and the stretch mark minimizer works to smooth her ever-growing belly.

$70

Allover roller

esker allover roller

This jade roller goes beyond your typical face roller and can be used anywhere on the body. It works to increase stimulation and reduce puffiness and is perfect for applying any oils to the face or body. Plus, it feels like a mini spa treatment.

$65

Kombucha making kit

farmsteady kombucha making kit

What could be a more perfect gift for the health-obsessed friend? This kombucha making kit comes with everything you need to brew your own homemade green tea kombucha. They'll think this is the tastiest gift ever.

$45

Laetitia lipstick

cupid & psyche laetitia

This red lipstick is perfect for your makeup enthusiast bestie who is looking to spruce up her life in quarantine. Crafted in the United States, these bee and vegan-friendly and cruelty-free lipsticks are created to flatter all complexions. Cupid and Psyche Beauty makes finding the perfect red lip way too easy!

$23

Jigsaw puzzle

inner piecec jigsaw puzzle

Mamas need to destress now more than ever during quarantine. This adorable jigsaw puzzle is perfect for the mama who needs a brain break! The 500-piece puzzle designed by artist Ray Oranges features an abstract gradient design that fits a standard frame when completed. Bonus: It's printed on recycled paper and the company donates $1 from every puzzle sold to youth mindfulness programs.

$30

Matilda's Bloombox

matilda's bloombox

If we have to be stuck inside, we might as well have some gorgeous florals to brighten up the space. Matilda's Bloombox locally sources blooms, delivers them to her door and provides simple tips on how to arrange it into a beautiful bouquet.

$39

'I Am Enough' bracelet

I Am Enough bracelet

Let this dainty bracelet serve as a constant reminder to your bestie that she is enough. She'll wear this on her wrist and read this daily oath to herself, "I Am Enough."

$35

Glow assorted teas

vahdam low assorted teas

This tea gift box set covers the entire spectrum of flavors from sweet to spicy. Individually packaged in beautiful tins, your gal pal will feel like a queen sipping her morning tea. Originally $40, this set is currently on sale for just $24. We'll take two, please.

$24

Find your voice journal

find your voice journal

Journaling is a great way to ease anxiety and will slow your bestie's racing mind before bed. This gift is perfect for first time journalists and includes prompts, daily quotes and coloring pages to help her unlock her potential and find her voice.

$22

Premium frother

shore magic premium frother

This gift is fitting for your latte-sipping bestie who can't go a day without her coffee. All she has to do is add two scoops of collagen to her favorite drink, and she'll have a perfectly foamy drink ready in seconds. Skipping the drive-thru line has never been so easy!

$25

Bath soak infusion kit

maude bath soak infusion kit

Say hello to hydration! She'll be feeling smooth and relaxed as ever after a long bath soaking in these salts. This vegan + cruelty-free set incorporates dead sea salt and dehydrated coconut milk powder for an ultra hydrating experience.

$32

Tiny Tags 'mama' necklace

Tiny Tags 'mama' necklace

It's a hard-earned title she answers to a hundred times per day. Whether she's new to the club or a seasoned professional, this delicate script 'mama' necklace is guaranteed to be a perfect fit.

$105

Superfood honey

Beekeeper's Naturals B.Powered honey

With a lack of sleep and jam-packed days, getting through the afternoon can be a real challenge. Send her a powerful pick-me-up in the form of a therapeutic blend of royal jelly, bee pollen, propolis and raw honey. It makes the ideal companion for tea, smoothies, yogurt or even on its on.

$17

Calming midnight mask with melatonin

Who doesn't deserve a reminder to pamper themself every once in awhile? Even better, this mask does all its work at night while you're sleeping with no extra effort needed. It's an amazing plant-powered antioxidant-packed mask that has melatonin, wild dandelion leaf and hyaluronic acid to rehydrate, repair and reset facial skin. It's so good, you might want to gift it to yourself. We won't tell, mama.

$68

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